27th April 2014 - Dungeness

Today was INCREDIBLE.  There, gone and ruined the whole blogpost.  Sorrynotsorry.

We meant to go to Dungeness on Saturday, but as frequently happens, completely overslept.  Amazingly, we made it on the Sunday, arriving at 9:15 (which was still an hour later than planned, but shh).  We started off at the ARC pit, with a good haul of terns - Black Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern and Little Tern.  Nice.  A report for Black-winged Stilt then came through (the main aim for the trip) so we hot footed it across to the main reserve, putting off the beach until the afternoon.  I had expected the Stilt to be hidden for some reason, but they were happily out looking gorgeous in the sunlight.  We watched them for a while, with a loud and friendly Whitethroat a few feet away and had a great moment to compare Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover as they landed beside each other.

Black-winged Stilt
We went a little further round to see if we could get a view of the Wood Sandpiper that was meant to be lurking in the grass behind the Stilt.  Luckily a gentleman there had somehow managed to find the top of the head of the Sandpiper and we were able to watch it until it came ever so slightly more out of the grass and appeared to actually be a bird.  I didn't see one last year, so this was great for me.

Sedge Warbler
Walking further along we got a sighting of our first Cetti's Warbler for the year.  In fact, throughout the day I counted about 5 Cetti's, so that was rather good!  Bearded Tit were out in force with 7 individuals flying obviously up and down the stream.  A pair of Bar-tailed Godwit were chased off the field by a Peregrine and a Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk added to the raptor list for the day.

Black-winged Stilt
Down on the beach we were hoping for a few Skua, but there wasn't as much movement as the day before and we didn't see any.  We did see our first Sandwich Tern for the year and I was very excited to see some Porpoise out to sea.  On the walk back to the car there was a tiny poofy Magpie which I have assumed was a baby (a Magpielet if you will) and a gorgeous Stonechat.

Dungeness loudly let off loads of steam and I nearly wet myself
Trip list: 60
Year list: 165
Lifers of year list: 8

26th April 2014 - Rainham Marshes

Our trip to Rainham Marshes was rather swift as it soon started to rain and I wasn't feeling great, but it produced two year listers, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler.  There were plenty of Little Egret about and a Wheatear perched nicely on a gate for us to look at.  Skylark were in full throttle and there were Whitethroat all around.


Trip list: 38
Year list: 154
Lifers of year list: 7

21st April 2014 - Northward Hill and Cliffe Pools

This was my first trip to Northward Hill and it really is a delightful reserve, I'd recommend it to anyone.  It also helped that the weather was glorious!  We had popped along in the hope of seeing the Ring Ouzel that had been reported there.  I had missed out last year on Ring Ouzel, so was incredibly happy when we reached the field they had been in and they were still there, wandering around and looking generally awesome.  Whilst looking at them we heard out first Cuckoo for the year which is always a delight.  There were quite a few Mediterranean Gull overhead and a lovely lone Wheatear dropped in briefly.  

Abysmal photo but that's a Ring Ouzel.

It was then on to Cliffe Pools.  It was absolutely heaving with Nightingale but despite being deafened by them, we didn't see a single one!  We did however see the Spoonbill and I saw my first Whimbrel in two years.  A selection of waders including Avocet, Redshank and Greenshank were about.  We got a closer look at the few Mediterranean Gull that were sat on the islands, which was great.  

Trip list: 47
Year list: 152
Lifers of year list: 7